Best hiking boots 2019: dominate walking in all conditions

Weekend ramblers, hardcore hikers and Three Peaks contenders! Walk on air and feel supported underfoot with these sturdy hiking boots that are built to last

Best hiking boots 2019: three friends go hiking over a tree-laden hill

Hiking boots are the ultimate purchase for anyone who regularly spends a lot of time walking outdoors, whether that’s meandering through lush forests on a lazy Sunday or hitting your nearest mountain trail for a weekend packed with adventure. 

This do-all rugged boot is the ultimate type of footwear for all-weather exploring, and there are some truly fantastic hiking boots around now from world-leading brands like Salomon, Merrell, AKU and La Sportiva.

To enjoy a day (or longer) hiking without running the risk of blisters, raw heels or crushed toes, it’s important to buy the best hiking boots that you can afford – and ones that match the type of hiking you’ll mostly be doing on the regular, and ones that fit you properly. 

While we love a tech-laden technical hiking boot for certain scenarios, you might not need that much tech if you just want boots to keep your feet dry and protected when walking the dog on country trails. In that case, one of the more budget friendly hikers will see you right. This will save you cash and a whole heap of research time.

There are also different types of hiking boots for different terrains, and choosing the right pair for challenging conditions can boost your enjoyment of the outdoors and bolster your confidence on the trail. That's why we've considered a range of styles, features and tech when rounding up our picks for the best hiking boots.

The best hiking boots: our expert pick

  • Choosing the best hiking boots for every condition is pretty much impossible due to the sheer range of options to choose from, and depending upon how niche you want to get when drilling down into the sub-genres of hiking boots. However, the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX is a tried-and-tested hiking boot capable of seeing you through a range of hiking, backpacking and trekking scenarios. It really is a do-all outdoors boot.
  • Salomon's hiking boot is purpose built for boosting stability and comfort on longer hikes and backpacking excursions, and has a raft of features and tech to ensure you can go for longer without experiencing discomfort. The Quest 4D 3 GTX is also waterproof and breathable, so you'll be fine if the heavens open.

The best hiking boots: a person treks through the forest

Why do you need specific boots for hiking?

Hiking boots, as a term, is a broad church, but the main reasons you’ll need some for the rough stuff are their blend of protection, grip and stiffness. Standard street boots – Doctor Martens, for example – might offer some ankle support by lacing up high, but a lack of ankle padding will cut you to ribbons on a long trek. 

Most modern hiking boots include a waterproof membrane, which will be useful when you head off the beaten track. In addition, hiking and mountain boots often incorporate a raised ‘rand’, a rubber buffer over the leather of the boot nearest the sole, which protects the boot from sharp stone cuts when walking across scree.  

Hiking boot soles will also be much stiffer than street shoes/boots to shrug off rough surfaces, incorporating aggressive tread for better grip on wet grass, moss or mud, and often cleverly-placed sticky rubber areas for extra grip on wet rock. 

That stiffer sole gets a grade from B0 to B3-B0 and below, making them fine for casual summer hikes, but too flexible for crampons. Meanwhile, B1-3 boots offer increasing levels of stiffness to accommodate increasingly technical rigid crampon use. 

This might sound excessive for the causal walker, but if you’re hill walking in the UK winter, opting for a stiffer crampon-compatible walking boot is highly recommended, as conditions can change fast.  

Hiking through Snowdonia National Park

Outdoor tech has come a long way in recent years, with huge strides being made in the way hiking boots are designed and built. From tech geared to keep your toes warm in sub-zero conditions, to innovations that help you stay upright on the most treacherous and slippery trails. These are:

  • Vibram Megagrip (enhanced traction)
  • Gore-tex (improved waterproofing)
  • NestFit (bio-mapping for comfort)
  • Thermo Tech Application technology (better support)
  • CleanSport NXT (odour control)

Choosing the best hiking boots for you

In a nutshell, you're looking for boots that are luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in their ruggedness, and offer as much grip as Spider-Man's socks. 

It’s essential to get the right rating for your hiking boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting the likes of Indicator Wall in Converse. Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit. 

A snug (not tight) fit minimises heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’ like heels and toes. When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons, and the stiffer sole will also exaggerate heel lift unless the heel pocket fits just right.  

The accepted wisdom is to try on hiking boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them on with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock. 

Do experiment with sock fit as well as boot fit, as even the most expensive socks are cheap compared to boots, and some of the more specialised socks can make a real difference to your hiking comfort. 

Hiking boots come in different weights. Generally speaking, any weighing 400-500g and under are best suited to speed hiking, trail running (some types, not all) or day to day offroad use. Dog walkers and fairweather hikers, you'll like these ones.

Hiking boots that are tough enough to withstand multi-day hikes, where you might be carrying a heavy load on your back, are usually heavier. The trade-off for that extra weight is that these types of technical boots are much more supportive.

Best hiking boots 2019: man on a solo alpine hike

Is the type of hiking boot material important?

Construction-wise, old-school full leather hiking boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ before extended use. Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box. 

Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted/NestFit models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor, although wearing around the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition.

In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use. In terms of brands, at the more robust end of the spectrum La Sportiva, Scarpa, Mammut, Lowa and Aku all build boots that will shame a tank, while at the lighter, summery end Teva, Keen and Salomon bring considerable expertise to the table.

The best hiking boots you can buy right now

Best hiking boots: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

1. Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX

Show the mountains who’s boss with these best hiking boots for all terrains

Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof+Rugged and durable+Enhanced stability+Supremely comfortable

Winner of the T3 Awards 2019 for Best Hiking Boots, the waterproof Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX (Gore-Tex) will see you over any mountain pass, powering you onwards in sheer comfort come rain or shine.

They’re a backpackers dream too, supporting you under heavy pack loads, and are designed to fully cradle and support your foot and ankle with each step. Foot fatigue is reduced, which is a boon on longer, heftier walking days, and the EnergyCell EVA midsole helps to reduce shock impact. 

Though they’re fully robust, the Quest 4D 3 GTX aren’t as heavy as you’d think and are breathable enough to be worn during the warmer months whenever you need full support. The Contragrip sole with deep lug pattern dishes out mega traction on mixed terrain, boosting your confidence to tackle harder trails that may have previously felt out of reach.

SensiFit tech provides a secure fit by cradling your foot from the midsole through to the Lace Locker lacing system, while a gusseted tongue stops debris and small stones from sneaking into your boots. Wear your Quest 4D 3 GTX’s with a pair of proper hiking socks and get out on the trail. They’ll have your back each step of the way.

Check out more of this year's award winners on our main T3 Awards 2019 page.

Best hiking boots: AKU Trekker Pro in black with turquoise trim

2. AKU Trekker Pro GTX

The best hiking boots for long days walking over mixed terrain

Specifications
Upper material: Suede, air8000+welded PU
Sole type: Vibram Curcuma
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Boot cut
Weight: 660g per boot
Reasons to buy
+Super-technical+Snug, supportive fit+Versatile

The AKU Trekker Pro isn't the lightest boot here but it is a very robust option. The leather and synthetic upper strikes a beautiful balance between durability and breathability, with a Gore-Tex liner ensuring a high level of water-resistance. 

Support from the relatively stiff midsole and high cuff is excellent, and the traditional tongue and lacing are welcome too. An outsole of Vibram Curcuma dishes out grip in all the right places, exactly when you need it.

This high-tech hiking boot features AKU’s proprietary Elica Natural Stride System technology, designed to enhance ‘bio-dynamic performance’. In plain English, that should make longer days on the trail much easier on your legs. That very same tech works to distribute weight more evenly through the foot too.

We don't often pay too much attention to the way a hiking boot looks – after all, if it's waterproof, supportive, protective and well-fitting, who really cares what it looks like? – but the Trekker Pro is easily one of the most stylish new boots we've seen this year.

Ultimately, if you want a reliable hiking boot to see you through spring and summer hiking, and well into autumn and beyond, you won't go wrong with this one. 

Best hiking boots: Mammut Ducan High GTX

(Image credit: Mammut)

3. Mammut Ducan High GTX

A comfy choice for fast and light mountain hiking

Specifications
Upper material: Double Layer Engineered Mesh
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: High boot cut
Weight: 545g per boot
Reasons to buy
+High levels of protection+Comfortable from the start

The new Mammut Ducan High GTX is mountain-ready, as you’d expect from Mammut, offering a robust but relatively lightweight boot with plenty of breathability. 

An unusual feature of the Ducan is a spring-steel sole as a midsole in the boot, a system Mammut has dubbed ‘Flextron technology’. Mammut claims that it prevents deflection of the foot, improves vertical support and thus delivers better efficiency on long days. 

Otherwise, the asymmetric lacing and mono-tongue are designed to give the best fit possible, although it is worth testing on your own feet before committing, as mono-tongues can create a single pressure point as opposed to the traditional tongues’ two. 

The obligatory Vibram outsole has some echoes of trail-running tread as well as boot, and a Gore Tex membrane should allow the mesh upper to breathe properly while keeping water out. 

Overall, the Mammut is a great choice for summer hiking in the hills, incorporating the benefits of modern materials without getting too technical.

Best hiking boots 2019: Teva Arrowood Riva Mid

4. Teva Arrowood Riva Mid

These hiking boots might look retro but the tech is anything but

Specifications
Upper material: Leather, EVA
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: eVent
Height: Mid
Reasons to buy
+Impressive performance+Waterproof outer+Cool retro feel

An updated take on the classic walking boot, the Teva Arrowood is a surprise entrant here, and boasting a highly robust full-grain leather upper and Vibram soles, this is the 4x4 of walking boots. 

Less visible is the eVent membrane inside the upper, a highly breathable but waterproof layer that’ll keep water out but allow sweat out, and nylon shanks to stabilise your feet on rough ground and add stiffness on more challenging terrain. EVA midsoles and polyurethane footbeds round out the package. 

Best hiking boots 2019: La Sportiva Stream GTX

5. La Sportiva Stream GTX

Fast and light hikers sporting Gore-Tex Surround breathable tech

Specifications
Upper material: Abrasion-resistant mesh, PU TechLite
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid
Weight: 450g per boot
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Enhanced breathability +Very comfortable

A fast and light hiking boot for those sun-soaked European breaks, the La Sportiva Stream GTX won’t weigh you down. Designed to be highly breathable with an abrasion-resistant mesh outer, yet waterproof with a Gore-Tex inner, the Stream GTX is for built for hiking fast and light in good conditions.

That fast and light ethos is taken to great lengths, with La Sportiva even incorporating aeration channels (Gore-Tex Surround tech) into the midsole to augment the breathable upper. This hiking boot is all about keeping your feet comfortable when you're powering along the trail. 

There’s a Vibram sole for grip, and stability control systems baked in, so the total package is more than capable of dealing with rough stuff in a hurry.  

Best hiking boots 2019: Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi

6. Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi

Super-funky hiking boots that are big on comfort

Specifications
Upper material: Nubuck and suede leather
Sole type: Vibram MegaGrip
Waterproof technology: eVent
Height: High boot cut
Weight: 492g per boot
Reasons to buy
+Huge grip+All-over comfort

The Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi brings six years of running heritage to the hiking world in a highly technical package. Likely to be popular with the speedier end of the hiking community (Hoka One One athletes are regulars at the UTMB mountain ultramarathon), these are some serious boots. 

Outsoles of Vibram MegaGrip with 5mm lugs are a statement of intent, while the company's Meta-Rocker geometry and midsole blend of EVA and RMAT material delivers underfoot comfort in spades. 

Looks-wise they're definitely on the chunkier side, so keep that in mind if you prefer a narrower profile hiking boot. However, they're lighter than many boots in this guide so won't weigh you down.

Best hiking boots 2019: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot

7. Lowa Renegade Mid Hiking Boot

Leather boots built for racking up the miles, but break them in first

Specifications
Upper material: Nubuck Leather
Sole type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid boot cut
Weight: 1,110g per pair
Reasons to buy
+Ridiculously comfy+Waterproof

If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge

The Renegade GTX is incredibly soft with plenty of movement in the toes, but the leather outer is both striking in appearance and long-lasting in nature, but doesn’t take too long to break in

Although it's not ideal for rough and rocky terrain, Lowa's hiking boots are a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.  

Best hiking boots 2019: Tecnica Forge

8. Tecnica Forge

The best hiking boots for blister-free walking

Specifications
Upper material: 1.8mm Nubuk leather, stretch fabric base
Sole type: Vibram Forge Megagrip
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: High boot cut
Weight: 595g per boot
Reasons to buy
+Bespoke, customisable fit+Rolls-Royce comfort+Looks great

The Tecnica Forge brings a little something special to the usual footwear mix. In short, it's a solid enough three-season walking boot, but with ski-boot technology in the sole and heel area that's thermo-formed to your feet using heaters and huge inflatable bags.

The result of all that effort is well worth it, with these hiking boots being moulded precisely to your feet. With a deeper heel pocket than normal, there's little heel lift either. 

A wrap-around overlap cuff instead of traditional tongue also minimises potential chafing. Blister free walking with no breaking is here - and very welcome it is too. 

Best hiking boots 2019: Scarpa Manta Pro GTX

9. Scarpa Manta Pro GTX

Trusted hiking boots to power you through every season

Specifications
Upper material: Nubuck leather
Sole type: Pentax Precision XT
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Boot cut
Weight: 1,640g per pair
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof+Gold standard mountain boot+Superb for long distance hiking

The latest iteration of the genuine classic Scarpa Manta boot, the Scarpa Manta Pro is arguably the best hiking boot for four-season use on the market. It has been the benchmark four-season UK hiking boot for many years, so if you’re planning a walk involving any of the UK’s mountain terrain, these should be top of your list. 

Fully crampon compatible (rated B2), this newest iteration brings improved impact absorption via a TPU crampon plate and PU shock absorbing insert, plus enhanced ankle support from Autofit Collar and Speed Lacing. 

In addition, they offer improved distance walking comfort thanks to more progressive flex in the Pro-Fibre XT 20 midsole. In short, these are the hiking boots you need for when the going gets a little tougher.

Best hiking boots 2019: Mammut Ayako High GTX

10. Mammut Ayako High GTX

The best hiking boots for traversing difficult terrain

Specifications
Upper material: Leather, fabric
Sole type: Vibram Mulaz
Waterproof technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Basic
Weight: 630g
Reasons to buy
+Padded ankle support+Impressive grip

Very much at the technical end of the spectrum, the Ayako High GTX is designed to perform brilliantly as a summer mountain/scrambling/via ferrata boot, but those attributes make for an excellent hiking boot too. 

Protective of the ankle and stiff enough for mountain travel, but prehensile enough to feel and grip rock and scree, these are the pros choice. 

Mammut’s ‘three zone lacing’ pulls the heel into the rear of the boot, minimising the dreaded heel lift, as well as giving the toes room to breathe. 

Memory foam on the high cut ankle makes for a snug fit, while the ‘climbing zone’ on the sole of the toe provides more grip where you need it most.

Best hiking boots: TOG 24 Whernside Waterproof Boots

11. TOG24 Whernside Waterproof Boots

Best for updated old-school hiking boot style

Specifications
Upper material: Suede leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof technology: Waterproof membrane and DWR
Height: Mid boot cut
Reasons to buy
+Robust build+Mud-proof

Intended as an upgrade on the classic walking and hiking boot, the TOG24 Whernside is all business on the trail. This isn’t a hugely technical boot, but it's supportive and very comfortable.

A suede and leather upper will break in quickly and mould to your foot shape (just like the good old days), while a built-in waterproof membrane keeps damp at bay. 

A wicking lining is there to help internal dampness levels, with an EVA heel cup taking care of stability as well as boosting comfort. Finally, a Vibram outsole with a deep-cut traditional tread will handle the rough stuff along with the smooth. 

For a sub-£100 price point there are always compromises, but here you’re getting a very solid package for the cash - ideal for light summer/autumn hikes across the moors and downs. For steeper, more technical terrain you’ll be wanting a more technical beast, though.

Best hiking boots 2019: Keen Galleo Mid Boot

12. Keen Galleo Mid Boot

The best hiking boots for those on a budget

Specifications
Best for: Rough Hill Walking
Upper material: Nubuck leather
Sole type: Dual Compound Rubber
Waterproof technology: Keen Dry
Height: Mid boot cut
Weight: 629g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Cushion protection

If you are a keen hill climber, then the Keen Galleo (figaro, magnifico!), will serve you well. Its PU heel cushion and EVA foam foot bed make them good for comfort and shock-absorbing when going uphill; and the rubber toe protects the feet when walking downhill. 

If some of the classic Gore-Tex and Vibram soled boots are slightly out of your price range, this could be the best men’s hiking boot alternative for you, as the sole and waterproofing technologies are designed in-house by Keen, helping to shave a few quid off the price.

The final word:

As with all types of outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. The Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX takes our best hiking boots crown because they offer a superb fit, with zero break-in time, and can be worn on everything from day hikes to multi-day backpacking excursions.

If you're looking for something not quite as extreme as a hiking boot, check out T3's selection of the best walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, but don't provide as much support.

Now that you're all kitted out, why not check out our complete guide to hiking or list of the best hikes in Europe to start planning your next adventure? 

About the author...

Mark Mayne is an outdoors journalist who specialises in camping, hiking and diving.

Damian Hall is an outdoors journalist, ultrarunner and walking expert who has authored books on the subject.